Is our preference impacting our progress?
That question came as a thought to me as I woke up on Independence Day.
And then I wondered...
What if we all could experience Independence from preference?
Is all preference wrong? No, not at all. But the preference I'm speaking of here comes in the form(s) of self-placed obstacles, and self-induced frustration.
If we made a list of all of the things we prefer in life, I wonder how many of them we could truly do without. I wonder how many of them, once removed, would actually launch us forward in the pursuit of our dreams.
Preference is a subtle thief of contentment.
One smile at a time. One moment at a time. One conversation at a time. And slowly but surely, we see days, weeks, and months fly by as the best years of our life are littered with regret.
It's the kind of regret that is easy to forget, honestly.
Because preference can be a wolf in sheep's clothing.
We need this.
We deserve that.
We wish that...
I'm wondering if maybe it's time to shift gears a little.
To stop needing, thinking we deserve, or wondering about what we prefer, and start removing those obstacles from the path that is our calling.
Our calling will require sacrifices.
Our calling will require hard work.
Our calling will require focus.
It's entirely possible that if our calling doesn't seem clear, that something is blocking our line of sight.
If our vision seems cloudy, it might be time to do something about it.
If we are stuck, it might be time to do some heavy lifting.
It's one of the most freeing feelings in the world.
It turns a roadblock of frustration into an open road towards our destination.
That's the road trip of our dreams.
And it can be the road trip of our reality.
So why keep staring at the same obstacles?
Remove them, and take the trip.
It might be time to experience...
24 hours in a day.
23 posts written so far in May.
"...it MAY BE that..."
this last post being the 24th is symbolic, significant, or a combination of both.
If 24 hours complete a day, it's only fitting the 24th complete #TheMaybeClock.
I wish I could tell you I planned it that way. I wanted to write every day. I told myself I would. And I went 24 for 31. Along the way I found the need to take a day off a week. I chose Sunday to be that day. I have learned the value of rest if I truly want to be at my best.
So I guess I'm 28 for 31.
My consistency grade on this writing project would be an A-.
But here's the thing...
If I gave myself a grade based on how bad I beat myself up for missing the three days it would be far worse.
And that might be the biggest takeaway for me in this project.
We need to find joy in the process, not seek perfection as the only sign of progress.
What area of life are you tired of saying "MAYBE" to?
Is it something you need to pick up? Set aside? Go all-in on? Walk away from?
Whatever your story is, and wherever your journey takes you, I'll be praying that you find the courage and encouragement that you need to make the most of the 24 hours you are given each day.
Notice I said MAKE THE MOST OF.
You aren't going to be perfect.
No one is.
So as the last few moments tick away on the #TheMaybeClock, and a new project starts for me, I'll look forward to sharing from my heart the best way I know how.
And when I run out of steam on any given day I will leverage the lessons that I learned about my journey in writing #TheMaybeClock this month...
"...it MAY BE that..."
I need to stop and rest once in a while to be a better writer.
I need to be ok when perfect isn't the outcome.
Can you relate to those?
Rest + My Best = Progress.
I like that as the last thought from #TheMaybeClock.
Short, sweet, and easy to remember.
But...before we leave, I can't wait to tell you about our next series!
If you've ever felt set aside, forgotten about, or wondered if you were ever going to get the opportunity to live out what your heart has been beating out of your chest about...you know what it feels like to live life on "The Back Burner".
I've been there.
Still am in some aspects.
And when I see the company I'm in, I know that #TheBackBurnerLife wasn't meant to be a permanent destination, but rather one of the most important and epic parts of our journey through life.
More on that tomorrow.
There are moments in life when we need to follow the path, no matter how narrow, difficult, or dimly lit. We hit on that yesterday when we talked about "Staying The Course".
How do we handle the times when we have to chart a new course in life where there doesn't seem to be any path whatsoever?
That's another level of leadership altogether.
It requires a vision that no one else may see but you. But acting on vision alone is like trying to fill a bucket full of water with a hole in the bottom. It'll work initially, but we'll be out of resources eventually. And usually faster than we'd think.
Creating a new path requires the one-two punch of preparation and work.
Preparation is seeing the forest for the trees. Seeing the big picture before we ever paint a single brush stroke. This is where we begin with the end in mind. When we can see the final scene before taking our first step, we'll be better prepared to make sure our journey is carved out in a way that will help us get there.
We are well-served when we create a process for our progress.
It gives us something to measure our movement towards our desired destination.
Are we moving towards our ultimate goal, or just randomly moving in general? The former is progress. The latter is ineffective busyness.
We'll be less likely to become distracted by naysayers, doubters, and arm-chair quarterback opinions when we stick to our vision and the due diligence of our preparation. We'll know how to stay open to feedback from trusted sources, and ignore the preferences from the doubters. That's the difference between a critique and a critic.
Doing our homework ahead of time will help us avoid confusion along the way.
Find a rhythm you can walk to, and accountability that will keep you on track. Your drumbeat doesn't need to excite everyone, just the ones who believe in your vision. And having a crew of back-up singers who are there for you will help you stay on key.
Great leaders don't forge new paths by singing in whatever key they want whenever they want. They hear a song in their head, and they sing it over and over and over to anyone within ear shot. It's consistent. It's clear. It's in the same key every time. That attracts others who join in and support that vision...that song. They sing the harmonies, and lay down powerful choruses of support behind the lead singer...aka...their leader.
If you get part way into your journey and learn something new that informs you that your original plan was off a bit, adjust. Don't bury your head in the sand and act like you had to be perfect out of the gate all the way to the end. Stop the song and get back on key. Your followers will thank you. They'll admire the transparency and humility within you.
Great leaders that experience success will all tell you about the bumps and bruises they picked up a long the way. The key is they didn't quit. They got back up. They learned from their failures. They kept pressing on in the direction they knew to be their calling.
So when it's time to move in the direction of your calling, soak up this small reminder:
Do the hard work of preparation to create a path that will help you reach your destination. Map it out ahead of time. Check your coordinates as you go. Make sure the team of people closest to you knows what those coordinates are as well. Receive constructive feedback from those who understand your heart, vision, passion, and calling.
Were you waiting for a step by step guide on how to blaze your trail?
By now, I hope you realize that wasn't my attempt.
That would be a bit disingenuous.
I don't know your calling.
I don't know your heart.
I do know that the handful of reminders here will help you put the right people around you, start with a clear expectation of where you are headed to, and the encouragement to create the path that you are called to.
One last note...
Enjoy the journey my friend.
The destination is nice, but the lessons that last a lifetime are learned along the way.
They can't see the forest for the trees.
Have you ever heard that phrase before? It's likely you have. The point being that someone is so wrapped up in the details of something immediately in front of them that they cannot see the big picture all around them.
Now picture this...
Someone is walking along a path in the woods. The path is narrow and winding. The trees that line it are thick and dense. The person traveling on it can only make out the next few feet ahead of them at a time because of the lack of light. Each turn is a risk, because they can't see what will come next. They might be fine, or they might come face to face with a challenge that seems insurmountable.
The longer the journey takes the more frustrated the traveller becomes. Their eyes start to wander from the path to the trees next to them. They wonder what might happen if they start to create a new path. They begin to push back on the brush next to them. At first the steps away from the path that is worn before them are exciting. They are convinced that if they push straight through the brush, branches, and thorns long enough, they'll be better off.
Have you ever been there?
And then this...
Straight paths are often the illusion that leads us away from our destination.
When we can't see the forest for the trees we miss the gift of the path.
While we may not be able to see around every corner, it doesn't mean we should take matters into our own hands. Dimly lit is still lit. The view of a few feet is still better than complete darkness.
The big picture?
Staying the course isn't always easy, but if we want to make it our destination it's necessary. We think we can take matters into our own hands, when by doing so our strength runs out. We become lost. We get so far off the path, that doubling back to reset our course is a reminder of lost time, resources, and pride swallowed.
We could avoid having to double-back if we stayed all-in.
Are there times when we have to chart a new course in life where there doesn't seem to be any path whatsoever?
That's a story for another day.
We are talking about the known calling to follow the path we are on, and stay the course. To trade the presumptive preferences we fall in love with for the vision we said we would stay committed to. It won't always be easy. Some days will be extremely hard.
See the forest for the trees before you take the first steps of your journey.
There is a destination on the other side.
Taking matters into your own hands when you are tired will take you to a place where you are lost, exhausted, and crawling back to the point you left your path.
If you find yourself in that moment, resist the urge to let your pride win. Run back. Walk back. Crawl back. Do whatever you can to get back on your path. Learn from the detour, and use it as a reminder. Don't let the lure of straight lines convince you that just because your journey gets narrow, winding, and dark that you should leave it.
If the road you are on is well lit and wide, it's likely it's an overcrowded path.
If the road ahead seems lonely, it might just be that you are leading.
Leading doesn't always have cheerleading along the way.
See the big picture.
Stay the course.
Trust the vision.
And when you do come out of the other side?
Celebrate the focus it took to reach your destination, and rest up.
There are more roads to travel.
And can I make one last observation?
Look for the narrow ones.
"...it MAY BE that..."
The narrow roads lead to the biggest opportunities.
More on that tomorrow.
When we react, we sow seeds that produce weeds.
When we respond, we sow seeds that produce good fruit.
Reacting is based on immediate circumstances.
Responding is based on a much larger picture.
Reacting is defensive.
Responding is calculated.
"In one ear and out the other".
We've all heard that phrase.
Reacting is "in one ear, and out our mouth".
It happens when we take something personally, and jump on those words immediately. It loses sight of the meaningful relationship we have, or could have, with the person we are interacting with. It wants to win an argument so badly, it loses focus, perspective, and sight of what matters the most.
Responding is "in both ears, and paused".
It's when we look at the other person and admit that if we keep going, we'll be somewhere neither of us wants to be. It's the time to crack a joke if we can, own our part of the situation, and come to a mutual understanding that we care more for each other than lobbing verbal grenades at each other's heart.
Sometimes...far from it.
Every single time.
But what about the times when we are absolutely right and they need to know it?!
"...it MAY BE that..."
An investment in grace now will reap a harvest of trust later.
That seems to me to be worth far more than any immediate "win".
Weeds vs. Fruit.
One sprouts up quicker, but has no lasting value.
Reacting vs. Responding.
Sow seeds that produce the fruit found in healthy relationships and you'll provide nourishment for everyone involved. Sow seeds that produce weeds, and what looks like a good idea in the short-term will wither over time.
The old adage is true...
We reap what we sow.
Respond > React.
Healthy relationships > Proving a point.
Conversations > Confrontations.
Most Valuable Player is our first thought.
It's an award or recognition received by one individual for their value to their team.
In order to be in a position for that consideration, I think we need to look deeper.
An award is the fruit.
But for fruit to be on the vine, there must be roots that create it.
#TheMVPLife roots are:
Mental. Verbal. Physical.
To be mentally aware, and verbally articulate, so that they are physically able.
Athletically, Academically, and Socially.
The strongest players understand that their value isn't found in simply what they do in their sport alone. It's how they approach their academics. It's involvement in relationship building and community service both locally and globally.
All that being said, there is something I find very interesting that gets overlooked in the conversation surrounding MVP's. It's part of the DNA of the player that gets "it", has "it", and leads others because of their "it".
Here "it" is:
They know they are Value Able (valuable) because they don't seek VALIDation.
They don't need anyone to tell them they are valid.
They know WHO they are. They are comfortable with WHO they are. They don't crave or need anyone else's validation of WHO they are. They approach every second of everything they tackle as the person they are.
That common characteristic seems to be prevalent in most MVP candidates.
Validation is a trap that trips up the most well-intentioned person. That is true regardless if we are talking about sports, or any other venture in life.
So the next time you have a student-athlete, employee, kid at home, colleague, etc...that seems distracted by the award, help them dig deeper to make sure the roots are healthy that create the fruit they desire.
If they are, they won't need anyone's validation.
The award will be an honor, but not a necessity.
They know and understand that being declared the MVP is a nicety, not a necessity.
If someone you know is seeking the award as validation of their game?
Walk with them so they learn their value based on WHO they are, not what they receive. Help them understand they are VALUE-ABLE based on their "WHO". That will help them understand they don't need VALIDATION based on someone else's opinion.
"...it MAY BE that..."
The best gift we can give our student-athletes isn't one award to one person. It's the every day reminder to all of them that they are unique, gifted, talented, and well able. That they have a specific calling on their lives. That it is our greatest joy to help them realize that, find it, and celebrate them when they do.
We may hand out one MVP award at the end of any given season.
We can hand out the seeds that create that fruit in every interaction, every day.
What the player does with them will determine what grows from them.
And one last thing for the coaches out there...
Don't leave them to farm the land by themselves.
Every great farmer had a mentor.
That's our job.
Perfection isn't a destination, it's a distraction.
The freedom to fail creates an environment where success can take off.
It's a small shift in perspective that can yield powerful results.
"MAYBE it will work, "MAYBE" it won't.
There's only one way to know.
And if it doesn't?
Welcome to progress.
There is a difference between questioning why vs. asking a question to learn why.
When we open a conversation by questioning someone, we are bringing judgement. In short, whether we realize it or not we are questioning their judgement. That doesn't tend to open up healthy conversations as much as create the potential for unwanted confrontations.
It goes like this:
"I'm not sure why you did this."
"I'm not sure why you would make that decision."
"I'm not sure you thought of whatever I'm about to tell you, but once I do I'll feel better for having cleared this up for you."
The opposite approach sounds more like this:
"Can you tell me more so I can learn the heart behind the decision that was made?"
"Can you share with me the heart behind the decisions made so that I have a better understanding of the bigger picture?"
"Thank you for your heart to lead. Can you tell me more about the vision behind your decision, so that when others ask about the direction we've taken I have all of the information for a great conversation."
Often times those closest to the situation have the most relevant information.
We need to take a posture to learn more than a posture to prove a point.
In my experience, I get it right when I listen twice as much as I speak.
Decisions are rarely made in a vacuum.
"it MAY BE that..."
Less trying to prove a point, more of a willingness to learn.
It's about honoring relationships.
We'll pick that thought up tomorrow.
"...it MAY BE that..."
It turned out different. It took longer. It was a lot harder.
It was exactly what you expected. It happened faster. It was a lot easier.
It's tempting to place more value on exact, faster, and easier.
If we are willing to commit to a posture of learning, there is just as much value in different, longer, and harder.
We tend to bail on experiences that start to veer off the course of our desire for exact, faster, and easier. We quit before we ever have the chance to learn from different, longer, and harder.
If the work has meaning, stay the course no matter how it ends up, how long it takes, or how hard you have to work at it to get there.
Those that do will reap rewards that most will never know.
"...it MAY BE that..."
Consistency in the face of adversity is a competitive advantage most people leave on the table because they don't stay long enough for desert.
The sweet stuff is reserved for the committed.
If you'll see it through, there's something sweet waiting for you.
"Stay in your wheelhouse."
Imagine the following scenario for a moment.
You are the captain of a ship. Things are going swimmingly. (Pun intended). You are cruising on the waters, enjoying the views, and the fellowship of those on board with you. Then one day you decide to walk the deck a bit. Then the next day a little bit more. You stop to talk to a few folks here and there. And then before you know it, you are spending a lot of time on the deck and not at the wheel.
About that time you look up to see the ship headed for ground.
You realize no one is at the wheel.
You've left your wheelhouse and now the ship is in danger.
The very people you were there to serve aren't getting the best from you.
You race back to the ship's wheelhouse and get back to what you are the best at.
Within a short period of time things go from what looked like an impending ship wreck, to a re-focused and centered purpose.
Have you ever felt like that?
Like you looked up to realize that the calling on you was left behind you?
"...it MAY BE that..."
To bring the value you were meant to, you need to stay where you were called to.
Grab the wheel.
Stay true to your vision.
Stay in your wheelhouse.
And if you ever find yourself outside of it?
Run with all you have back to it.